Telling a good story

I visited a local University and I took a full days ‘Visiting Professional’ session for 3rd years, entitled a ‘Master class on location recording’ (their title not mine!).  A chance not only to learn at bit more about film/program making, but also find out a little more about the industry from someone who works in it, before they start to look for a job next summer. I had just nine attend from a course of 72!!! And one guy was an hour and a half late and just walked as if it didn’t matter!

The problem?  It was deemed a technical session and not promoted by the academic staff, so therefore the students felt no need to attend. The attitude is that the only time they need to attend a ‘technical session’ is when they what to borrow equipment and are told they have to attend a particular session first.

I find it hard to understand this attitude when to practice any art, you need to understand the tools of the craft?  Why don’t the students see the need to learn how to use the media equipment?

Most of the students on this course for their final year project chose to make a video documentary.  They’ve had some great ideas, but the execution of the project most of the time doesn’t make the most of the idea – so what’s the problem?

There’s fundamentally a missing point. Although a good story is important, by far the most fundamental media skill to learn is how to tell a story – it’s the story telling that’s most important, it’s what the media is about, it’s not actually the story itself!  If you tell a non-descript story well, it has the potential to be a good program. On the other hand a good story told badly will simply make a bad program and is a waste of a good story.  yet the fundamental stress of the media studies department is that by far the most important thing in media is the narrative – the story itself.

A good book is good because of the writing skill of the author, not necessarily because of the story itself, as it’s the way the story is told that captivates and holds the reader.  Whilst the original story maybe good, if it’s told badly you’re not going to finish the book – you may even put it down within a few pages and the story will remain untold.

If you tell a story in multimedia using video and sound, it’s the way you use the video and sound to produce the program that tells the story, again it’s the story telling that captivates and holds the viewer.

As an artist discovers how to use his paints and brushes, a media creative needs to learn how to use their cameras, microphones and lights to achieve the best artistic result and tell a story. I have a professional photographer friend who can simply pick up a camera and take a stunning photograph - he knows how to use the camera to achieve the artistic effect he wants and tell his story in picture form.  If he didn’t know how to use the camera he won’t be able to achieve his artistic result.

Story telling needs to become the emphasis in media studies and the use of sound and light in telling that story. When this happens students will realise they need to know how to use the equipment in order to tell the narrative the way it deserves to be told.

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Many thanks for you patience.
Kind regards,
Mike - Media4ed.

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